Lessons from Michael

One of my favorite authors is called Michael Crichton; he died unexpectedly last year. He is known most widely in the States for his dinosaur-themed Jurassic Park with which I was totally enamored during the same era in my life that I regularly watched WWF, worked out at Bally’s Holiday, and frequented the new Taco Bell at the Northlake Plaza in Tucker, GA. The following three things I discovered from reading his Travels, one of his lesser known works:

oNE: Throughout his life, Michael thoroughly and unassumingly explored paranormal phenomena. What I found most encouraging is that he did not permit his scientific education (Harvard Medical) to sway him instantaneously to deprecate what others, even close friends, considered loony. All in all, he reached some interesting (and simple) conclusions to all of which I found myself saying, “Right on, man.”

tWO: We share the same opinion about what is the most helpful way to talk about the differences between women and men. Ha!

tHREE: He will release two more books posthumously. Awesome. With the exception of a series of spy thrillers he wrote to put him through medical school and a travel article he wrote at ten years old for the New York Times (both of which allude me still), I will complete the full volume of his work after reading these, one a techno-thriller whose details have not yet been released and the other a novel about pirates. Awesome again.

At the risk of being narrow-sighted by listing only maxims about which MC and I agree, I should say that...well...I’m ok with it.

Below I’ve ranked his books according to my (secret) criteria:

#1 Sphere – a huge, mysterious ball in a spaceship at the bottom of the ocean…I’ll give you $.50 if you guessed the end of this one.

#2 The Great Train Robbery – with this one MC went to lengths to create a world in which I easily lost myself from page one.

#3 Timeline – it’s difficult to beat anything that at once explores real medieval knights, French food, and time travel.

#4 Jurassic Park – everyone knows this one; I found a mistake in it.

#5 Travels – It’s a bit risky for me to put this one near the top (because I just read it) but generally I like knowing what’s going on inside an author’s head.

#6 Airframe – a problem-solver’s paradise.

#7 Eaters of the Dead – with the exception of a few pages, I would recommend that high-schoolers read this before reading the original Beowulf.

#8 Disclosure – this was for me at an early age a neat window into the stressors of high performing corporate executives. I also gave it to my dad for Christmas one year.

#9 A Case of Need – I don’t agree with his viewpoint, but man Crichton can tell stories

#10 The Lost World – don’t let the movie ruin this one for you…the newness of the dinosaurs might be missing, but the suspense definitely is not.

#11 State of Fear – Al Gore is probably pissed at this book.

#12 Next – I hope he’s not right about this one.

#13 Congo – What are ya doin’ to me now, Michael? This book scared me almost as much as Pet Cemetery.

#14 Terminal Man – one of the most difficult of his novels for me to believe, but highly engaging writing nonetheless.

#15 Prey – also tough to believe, but creepy, cavy, and creative.

#16 The Andromeda Strain – though I read it late, he wrote this one before Outbreak, Twelve Monkeys, or anything else similar. Avoid the made-for-TV movie…it absolutely bites!

#17 Rising Sun – the only one of his works that I watched the movie first…big mistake.

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